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MACI Knee Surgery Recovery: The Complete Guide


If you are reading this, then you or someone you love is likely in the process of recovering from a MACI knee surgery. And with that I say, congratulations on making it through surgery! Now comes the hard part: recovery.

Recovery from an MACI surgery can be difficult and scary. You might begin to have doubts if the surgery truly helped you or if you have enough patience to do less for the next couple of weeks. These thoughts can be daunting and anxiety-provoking.

But with the right information and support, you can make it through.

In this guide, we will walk you through everything you need to know about MACI knee surgery recovery. We’ll review the process of MACI knee surgery and then cover topics such as pain management, physical therapy, diet, and nutrition.

With our help, you’ll be more likely to make a smooth and successful recovery in no time.

What is MACI Knee Surgery

High school, college, and professional athletes are often high-demand individuals who put a lot of wear and tear on their bodies. As a result, they’re at high risk of developing a cartilage injury. Thankfully, MACI is a treatment option that can offer these athletes the chance to heal their injuries and return to their high level of activity.

MACI (matrix-induced autologous chondrocyte implantation) is a knee replacement or cartilage restoration surgery that is performed on patients who have damaged knee cartilage, cartilage tears, or other similar knee injuries. The articular cartilage is the smooth, white tissue that covers the ends of bones in the knee joint and allows them to move smoothly.  

The necessity for these surgeries is usually confirmed using MRI scans to guide and inform the surgeon.

Unlike traditional methods, which involve grafting material from another part of the patient’s body, MACI surgery uses the patient’s own cells to create new cartilage. In short, it’s the surgical procedure that uses your own cartilage to repair damage to your knee.

The patient’s cells are injected into a MACI implant made of biodegradable scaffolding. Over time, the patient’s cells begin to produce new cartilage, which fills in the scaffolding and replaces the damaged cartilage.

That’s why when it comes to the effectiveness of MACI, multiple clinical trials show its success in the treatment of full-thickness cartilage defects in the knee. 

MACI Procedure

MACI is a two-part procedure that is used to treat knee pain or any similar medical condition to achieve a full cartilage repair.

During the first step of the surgery, the surgeon will make small incisions in order to access the damaged area in the patient’s knee. The first procedure involves injecting a sterile solution into the knee joint. This solution helps to lubricate the joint and reduce friction. It also flushes out any debris that may be present in the joint.

The second procedure involves the placement of the infused scaffolding into the joint. The scaffolding is made of a biodegradable material that will eventually dissolve in the body.

The surgeon then closes the incisions with stitches or staples and applies a dressing to the knee. A drain may also be placed in the knee to help remove any excess fluid.

MACI has been shown to be an effective treatment for knee pain, with patients typically seeing better results than those who undergo other treatments. In addition, the procedure is relatively simple and can be performed on an outpatient basis.

As a result, MACI is a popular treatment option for patients who are looking for an effective way to reduce their knee pain. The drug administration is simple and well tolerated, making it a viable option for patients who are seeking an alternative to surgery.

Who is a Good Candidate for MACI Treatment

You may be a candidate for MACI treatment if you have cartilage damage in your knee and:

– Are 18 years of age or older.

– The damage is limited to one area of the knee.

– You do not have arthritis in your knee.

– You have had previous knee surgery but still have cartilage damage. 

– You have tried other treatments, such as physical therapy or knee injections, but they have not worked.


Risks and Complications

As with any surgery, there are risks and complications associated with the MACI procedure. These include:

– Infection

– Bleeding

– Blood clots

– Nerve or blood vessel injury

– Joint stiffness

– Persistent pain

– Allergic reaction to the collagen implant

It is important to discuss these risks and complications with your doctor prior to undergoing the MACI procedure.

What to Expect in Your MACI Knee Surgery Recovery

One of the most common questions patients have after MACI surgery is what to expect in terms of their recovery. However, there are a few things you’re expected to do at home to reach a successful recovery from your MACI surgery.

Enroll in a Rehabilitation program

Immediately following your surgery, you will be given pain medication and placed on a rehabilitation program. The rehabilitation program will gradually increase in intensity as you heal.

A rehabilitation program is generally put together by your physical therapist.

Physical therapy will help you regain strength and motion in your knee joint. A physical therapist will design a specific therapy program for you based on your individual needs and wants.

The rehabilitation program following this type of surgery typically lasts for 6-8 weeks. During this time, you’ll likely experience some pain and swelling.

However, the rehabilitation program is designed to help you recover quickly and effectively, and most patients report significant improvements in their symptoms within a few months.

In rare cases, patients may require additional surgeries or other interventions to address persistent pain or instability.

Avoid high-impact activities

You will need to avoid high-impact activities, such as running or playing tennis, for at least six months following your surgery. Low-impact activities, such as walking, are typically allowed beginning two weeks after surgery.

You should gradually increase your activity level as tolerated by your body.

Wear a knee brace

 In the first few days after surgery, you will likely need to use a knee brace and ice your knee frequently to reduce swelling. Your doctor will give you specific instructions on how to ice your knee and when to wear the knee brace.

As you heal, you’ll be able to reduce the amount of time you spend icing your knee and eventually stop using the knee brace.

Elevate your leg

 It is important to keep your leg elevated as much as possible in the first few days after surgery. This will help reduce swelling.

Take care of your skin

After surgery, you will have incisions on your skin. It is important to take care of these incisions and keep them clean and dry.

Watch what you eat

You will need to be careful of what you eat and drink after MACI surgery. This is because your body will be trying to heal and you don’t want to put anything in your body that will hinder that process.

Make sure to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein. Avoid sugary drinks and alcoholic beverages.

Pain medications

You will likely be prescribed pain medications to help you manage any discomfort you may experience after surgery. Make sure to take these as directed by your doctor.

Have a positive mindset

One of the most important things you can do during your recovery is to have a positive mindset. It is normal to feel frustrated and discouraged at times. But remember that you are on the road to a full recovery and every day brings you closer to your goal. Try to tell yourself statements like:

  • Healing takes time.
  • I will get through this.
  • One day at a time.

Connect with others

Another important thing you can do during your recovery is to connect with others who are going through the same thing. There are many online forums and support groups for people recovering from MACI surgery.

Call the doctor

Lastly, it’s essential to call your orthopedic surgeon if you experience any of the following:

– Severe pain that does not go away with pain medication

– Redness, swelling, or drainage from your incision site

– Fever

– Difficulty using the restroom

– Shortness of breath

– Chest pain.

Always be mindful of your present condition since MACI surgery complications can happen anytime.

Maci Surgery Recovery Takes Time

All of these things are important to keep in mind during your MACI knee surgery recovery period. Following these instructions will help develop better pain relief and help promote a successful recovery.

MACI treatment options have improved in recent years, and a new technique has been developed that helps patients recover healthy cartilage. However, even with this new treatment, being patient is still key to your overall recovery.

The recovery process can be frustrating, trust me I know. But always remember that surgery is designed to improve the long-term health of the joint.